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Good little film!
I've now seen this film twice on television over the years and there is nothing wrong with it. For a TV movie I think it is quite good and it whiles away a pleasant couple of hours. I would love to get it on DVD.
In an out of control train hurtling back down the mountain at 70mph, Ben Johnson doesn't bat an eyelid, and gets off the train at the station as if it is all in a days work!
In a comparison with "Unstoppable" which I have just seen and which is apparently being tipped to win an Oscar (why! how?) I know which of the two films I prefer!
The Runaway Train, as a TV movie, was made on a shoestring in comparison with films made for the big screen by the movie moguls in the large studios. Special effects were virtually non-existent in this film, where as today CGI effects are on tap and can produce anything the produced or director wish.
This might have been one of the likable Ben Johnson's more smaller films in his illustrious career, but it certainly wasn't his worst.
The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
One of Hammer's best
I remember seeing Plague of the Zombies when it first came out in the 60's and was instantly impressed.
Brit film makers Hammer had a reputation for churning out a succession of cheap and cheerful hammy horror films, often back to back using the same sets. One or two were good, most were mediocre, and some were awful. Hammer often used experienced actors like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but also used reasonably well known British character actors, and also gave many young actors and actresses a start in films. This is certainly one of their best efforts and it has a couple of genuinely scary moments.
It is well made, well directed, photography is excellent, actors are competent. No complaints.
The Devil's Rain (1975)
Not bad at all
I saw this film in London when it first came out in the 70's and I thought it was OK and it certainly wiled away a couple of hours and it is not half as bad as people make out.
Borgnine plays himself, Captain Kirk is in it, and so is John Travolta, and so it certainly hasn't got nobodies in it.
It is an interesting little film and it is scary on occasions, well, certainly scarier for example than some of the more poorer films made by hammy British horror film makers Hammer (the only half-decent film they managed to come up with was Plague of the Zombies).
Anyhow, The Devils Rain is a nice little film and the ending is absolutely great - you'll never guess it and you don't see it coming.
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
Good film, slightly short on facts
Most submarine films are boring, in which a clichéd script includes everything and anything that can happen on a sub are trotted out.
However, this is an above average film and is more or less based on fact and is well worth watching, despite it not doing so well at the box office.
Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson are on top form and play well off each other.
Slightly sad to see that some of our American and Brit contributors take cheap shots at the former Soviet Union. They probably think they really were the goodies defending the "free world" against the Soviet "baddies". Grow up!
Black Narcissus (1947)
Pure sexual tension
I only saw this film for the first time a couple of years ago, and was amazed at how good it was.
It is very well made, well directed, excellent scenery, excellent photography, and superb acting.
It is a tale of suppressed sexual feelings and tension and in some of the scenes you can almost touch it.
Deborah Kerr might have got the main plaudits but for me Kathleen Byron as the insane Sister Ruth was absolutely outstanding. The image and expression on her face as she comes out of the door at the end of the film, ready to kill Sister Clodagh (Kerr), is a classic moment in British films.
Why make this film?
Or why watch it?
I'll keep it short and sweet, as the actress said to the bishop.
This is a thoroughly unpleasant film and anyone who gets real pleasure out of watching the torture scenes needs professional help, or locking up in an asylum.
I don't see the point of the film, or what its message is, and it is frightening to think that this sort of thing is going on in the world, as it probably is.
Having said all that, I think the film is quite reasonably well made, well directed, and the actors play their parts well, including the baddies, and it is certainly a cut (if you'll excuse the pun) above the average mindless slasher movie.
The Bounty (1984)
A true depiction
If William Bligh could return to this earth his lawyers would be handing out writs and summons left, right and centre for all the appalling things that have been said about him.
Bligh was a very good seaman, an excellent navigator, and a firm but fair ship's captain. There were far worse than him in the Royal Navy. His 3,500+ mile voyage in a small open boat with his loyal crew members has never been bettered.
After the slander of the two previous films in the 30's and 60's, this film gives a far more accurate and sympathetic portrayal of Bligh, and Anthony Hopkins is excellent as always.
Panic in the Streets (1950)
Panic on the Streets?
No, not really, but this is a very good film indeed, and is sadly a forgotten gem. Black and white suits the film.
Straight forward formula, a guy had the plague and the authorities have to track down everyone he came in contact with before they die.
Very well directed, and the acting is great. Richard Widmark as the male lead is good but is completely over shadowed in the acting stakes by Paul Douglas as the police captain, and Jack Palance (never better than this) and Zero Mostel as the baddies. Sadly Palance went on to play similar characters in some really second rate gangster or war movies.
Worzel Gummidge (1979)
No, its not, and it does seem quite old fashioned compared to todays television.
What it hasn't lost though is its very genuine innocent and gentle charm and humour. Worzel Gummidge was hugely popular with all ages, and Worzel's (Jon Pertwee) naive innocence was quite touching. Aunt Sally (Una Stubbs) was excellent, and so was Barbara Windsor in the episodes that she appeared in.
I don't know what Pertwee was like to work with in the series, as apparently when he was Dr Who he was allegedly very difficult. Ah well, its nice to see a perfectionist in whatever role he is playing.
When the series moved to New Zealand I personally felt that was not a good step as it became more darker - I believe a couple of episodes had zombies in them. Oh dear.
Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
A very clever film!!!
A friend gave me this film to watch on DVD about a year ago, and I have also seen it since on television. I have now bought the DVD and I think it is an absolutely brilliant film.
A loyal East German mother falls into a coma at a time when there are major rumblings of discontent in the DDR. When she comes out of the coma the wall is down and East and West Germany are heading towards reunification. Sadly any major shock could kill her and her devoted son has to pretend that the DDR is still alive and well, and his efforts to do this are the main story of the film.
This is one of the most refreshing, amusing and well made films that I have ever seen. The idea for the film is extremely original, the script is spot on and so are all the actors, and it is a very clever film indeed.
For me the most amusing and touching part of the film is when the son and his friend 'doctor' a piece of newsreel to make it look to the dying mother as if it were the West Berliners were trying to escape across the wall into East Berlin! When they later sent her ashes up in a home made rocket I was reaching for my handkerchief because it was so touching.
The film does not go hugely overboard in criticising the former East Germany and that was good. I visited the DDR a number of times in the 1970's (I am a socialist by the way) and the East Germany that I saw was not the same that is often lambasted by the capitalist west and right wing historians.
I would earnestly and strongly recommend this film to anyone.
The Reader (2008)
Thought provoking film?
Yes it is. It is also a very decent film, and I can't see why it attracted so much criticism upon its release. Unfortunately films to do with the holocaust don't seem to go down well with our European neighbours, and I sense that it is something that they would rather forget.
Fortunately or unfortunately this is exactly the type of film which always seems to get all the armchair amateur arty philosophers discussing the meaning of life for hours. Guys, it is just a film, a good one but just a film nevertheless.
I thought the film was a little bit too long and the middle part could have been shortened slightly.
Up until seeing this film recently on DVD I had never been a massive fan of Kate Winslet, not from Titanic onwards, but in this film she was absolutely magnificent and her acting was of the very highest order. Ralph Fiennes was his usual very competent controlled self, but I found his character (Berg) to be infuriating and especially so in the scene when he meets Winslet in the prison canteen towards the end - still, it shows what a good actor he is.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
I wish the Japanese...........
........would come back and blow this film out of the water!!
It is a poor film and one wonders how on earth it ever won an Oscar, and for what? It is not hard to see how it received so much criticism. It is completely OTT (over the top), CGI effects run riot from start to finish, the various plots (such as there are) are confusing, and one doesn't care what happens to the characters.
In fairness to the actors they try hard and give their all in a lost cause (the film) and all deserve a medal! The action scenes, whether real or computer generated, are good and so is the photography, and there appears to be some sort of a genuine attempt to stick to historic events. To make the film a success it should have been shorter and simpler.
From Russia with Love (1963)
Best Bond film of all time !!
Made in 1964 this was the second in a long line of James Bond films, and in many people's eyes including my own it was the very best by far, and it still puts all the others in the shade.
Excellent cast, excellent story, excellent acting, excellent directing and excellent photography.
Connery was on top form and firing on all cylinders, but he had his work cut in the acting stakes to stay ahead (and only just) of Robert Shaw who was superb as the psychotic SMERSH (or is it SPECTRE?) assassin Grant. Lotte Lenya was also outstanding as the other SMERSH/SPECTRE operative Rosa Klebb, and this gave Lenya's already long film career a further boost.
In my opinion what separates this film from all the others was the lack of a plethora of gimmicks and special effects that were to become, unfortunately, the trademark of later Bond films. A special mention should be made of the penultimate scene in which the escaping Bond is chased by the enemy gunboats, and the subsequent battle that takes place. It is an outstanding, gripping and genuinely dangerous scene and played for real and the SMERSH/SPECTRE actors/crews really earn their pay! These days it would sadly be done by computers!
Night of the Demon (1957)
A five star A+++++ "B" movie
This film was released in the UK as 'Night of the Demon' and a slightly shortened version as 'Curse of the Demon' in the USA. I first saw this film on the television in the 70's and it frightened me to death, and I am a lover of horror films! In my opinion it is a classic horror film which will see off other films in this genre for many years, and even more amazing is that it was made on a shoe string.
There is nothing really to be frightened of, you only see the demon at the start and end of the film, and even then the special effect is pretty simple. It is the whole nature of the film, the whole atmosphere of the film, the fact it is made in black and white (colour would have ruined it), and the use of shadows that make this a very creepy film and not the sort of film to watch by yourself just before you go to bed! The conflict between the director (Tournier) and producer (Chester) is well known - Chester wanted the demon in, Tournier wanted it out, Chester won. As extremely simple as the effects are, the insertion of the demon coming up the road after Professor Harrington (Maurice Denham) at the start of the film, and the demon appearing in the distance down the railway track at the end, is genuinely scary.
Peggy Cummins was great and did all that was required of her, Dana Andrews was very good as the cynical unbeliever in witchcraft and this film helped revive his career for a short while having been on the slide for a few years. In my opinion first prize should go to Niall MacGinnis as the genuinely creepy Professor Karswell.
If the film were remade today they were ruin it! It would be made on a huge budget, computer effects would be everywhere, and it would be rubbish.
Pretty decent naval war film
I saw this film as a little boy when it came out in the 50's and thought it was great. I still think it is a good film by war film standards, but certainly not as strong as something like "The Cruel Sea" which is a more harder hitting adult film.
The film sticks pretty much to the actual historical events and doesn't wander off the straight and narrow, which many war films sometimes do! The cast is like a who's who of all the well known British actors of the time, and they are all very competent and all work hard to keep their upper lips very stiff and correct.
It is good to see that the Germans are dealt with sympathetically and not portrayed as 'villains', as sometimes happens if the film had been made purely in Hollywood.
It is also good to see that real ships are used in the general shots, instead of models in a bath tub, and some of the camera shots of the battle are excellent.
One very minor gripe is that in some of the shots of the "Graf Spee" the US Navy extras playing the 'German' sailors are still wearing US Navy uniforms! Oh dear! Ah well, it does not detract from what is overall a good film.
A good snapshot of 50's Britain
I have seen this film a number of times on television. I find it quite pleasant and nostalgic as I was a young boy in the UK in the 50's and the images bring back so many pleasant memories. It is good to see so many actors in supporting roles who went on to become major stars in the UK like Barbara Windsor and Thora Hird, and a host of other well known British characters.
It is a typical British 50's film and is well made and well acted, although albeit quite stiff upper lipped and somewhat wooden, especially from the leading actors like the child's mother. In fairness to her the lines that were given to her were pretty weak, and it is a shame that her movie career did not go as well as it could of - she was certainly a quite stunning girl.